Berber girls from the High Atlas Mountains

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New CityJanuary 2002

          In light of the current mix of fear and fascination toward the Muslim world, which has led to rash over-generalization, it is refreshing to look at Victoria Vorreiter’s straightforward color photographs and informative text recording the pre-modern cultural traditions that survive Morocco today. A skilled and sensitive documentarian, Vorreiter (who is also a musicologist) shows us healing practices, religious rituals, tea ceremonies and, most of all, the panoply of various musicians and dancers whose performances are essential and specific to each cultural event. Vorreiter teaches us that the Muslim world is endlessly variegated; Morocco alone is intricately multicultural, tingeing Islam with local, regional and tribal customs. In a particularly elegant image, we see a beautiful desert tribeswoman performing the Guedra, a dance that uses syncopated finger gestures to mime the precision of camels and their herders across the Sahara desert. (Michael Weinstein)